June 26, 2020

Setting records

Yes, the US is setting records for number of confirmed infections, especially in certain hot spots. Interestingly, the death rate is less than it was in the beginning. Deaths usually lag the infections by 2-3 weeks, so I expect it to rise. However, I don’t think it will match the higher rates we saw in New York City, New Orleans, and Detroit. Partly because we know how to better care for patients and how to monitor them by following their Oxygen saturation. We have learned that “tummy time”, or having people lie on their bellies, can help improve low saturations. This along with high flow oxygen can often prevent the need for intubation. We have found a few treatments that work for the very ill like dexamethasone and remdesivir. All of these things and a few other tricks will make a difference.

But I think the biggest difference is in the ages of the people infected. In the early stages, most of the patients were older which put them at higher risk for complications. Now the majority infected are younger and have less risk of death. They can still get seriously ill. It seems the numbers of deaths are also low because older people and people at risk are hunkering down and avoiding exposures. I am reassured by these factors.

But we are not out of the woods. First of all, some young people will get really really sick and some may die. This disease can catch people by surprise with some patients complaining of debilitating symptoms for at least 60 days after their illness. We are still on track for way too many deaths that may have been preventable.

The main risks right now are the young people bringing it home to vulnerable family members and to health care workers, especially in overwhelmed hospital settings. These reasons are why I hope we can change the narrative from masks being a political statement to masks making you a good citizen. A friend who lives in a smaller, more rural town, says that the governor’s mandate to wear masks helps de-politicize the individual mask wearer. Now they can use the legal reason for wearing a mask, rather than a political reason, and not be harassed like they were earlier. This is a benefit I had not considered.

Mask wearing is being a good citizen and we should own that. We all must continue to protect ourselves so we can get beyond this time. Most of us have been doing the job for just about 4 months now. Don’t stop now.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six.

Bonus link below to The Seattle Times list of resources to help answer your questions and guide you through the pandemic.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.